The annual Ipsos-NPD BookTrends book survey found that customers purchased about the same number of consumer books in 2000 as they did in the year before, approximately 1.6 billion. According to the survey of more than 12,000 households, consumers spent $12.6 billion on books in 2000, up less than 1% from the previous year. The survey also estimated that adult unit book sales were up by almost 1%, while children's unit sales were down 4%.

Unlike the AAP sales report released earlier this month, which measures publishers' receipts (News, Mar. 5), the Ipsos study gauges unit sales as well as customer spending on consumer books, which Ipsos defines as adult and children's hardcovers and paperbacks, mass market paperbacks, book clubs, mail order and some religious books. In addition, Ipsos does not automatically classify the Harry Potter titles as children's books; in 2000, Ipsos found that 59% of the Potter titles were purchased by consumers 14 and older, compared to 41% in 1999. Although there are differences in the AAP and Ipsos numbers, they both point to a sluggish consumer book market in 2000.

Ipsos's annual look at unit book sales by outlet found that sales through the Internet accounted for 6% of units sold last year, compared to 4% in 1999. According to Ipsos, the Internet accounted for 7% of the sales of adult books in 2000, but for only about 2% of children's books. Barrie Rappaport, senior account executive of Ipsos-NPD BookTrends, said that one factor limiting the purchases of children's books via the Internet is the low price points of coloring and other activity books, which can equal shipping costs, making the purchase of such materials through e-retailers uneconomical. Consumers do show an interest in buying leveled readers and chapter books online.

Bookstores' share of unit sales fell slightly, from 35% in 1999 to 34%, but the decline was mostly attributable to a drop in share for the major chains since the closure of Lauriat's and the downsizing of Crown Books. Small chains and independent booksellers maintained a 15% share of spending on adult books (Ipsos did not break out chain and independent bookstore spending for children's books). Other outlets that lost market share in 2000 were mass merchandisers and the "other" segment. In measuring sales by genre, fiction strengthened its lead as the most popular category, accounting for 54% of adult book purchases, compared to 53% in 1999. Consumers also increased spending on books in the cooking and crafts, general nonfiction and travel/regional categories. Unit sales cutbacks were seen in the technical/science/education category, an apparent reflection of the slowing growth of spending on computer books. Spending on nonfiction religious books was down, although religious fiction did well. The art/literature/poetry category also experienced slowing growth.

Unit Sales by Outlet, 1999-2000

Outlet 1999 2000
Source: Ipsos-NPD Booktrends.
Bookstores 35% 34%
Book clubs/Mail order/Book fairs 24 24
Mass merchandisers 10 9
Discount/Variety stores 7 8
Internet 4 6
Warehouse/Price clubs 5 5
Food/Drug 4 4
Other 11 10